Creating an effective sales training program | Sunday Observer

Creating an effective sales training program

20 November, 2022

Unquestionably, the sales performance of an organisation is the most critical difference between success and failure. A high-performing sales team is the lifeblood of any organisation. The success of not only the organisation but also everyone else in the company is mainly dependent on the revenue generated through sales.

To fill the more difficult and complex responsibilities, businesses need more skilled and experienced personnel to expand in the market. Companies realise how important training programs are for managing and energising their workforces. However, creating and implementing a comprehensive program that helps achieve organisational goals is challenging. The viability of sales training programs is always guaranteed, depending on the design and how clever the trainer is.

An organisation needs a knowledgeable, skilled, and committed team of salesmen regardless of the size of the company or the investment made as a start-up. Similarly, regardless of the number of salespeople in a company, providing skills and knowledge through sales training is a must. Training makes employees more organised, more productive, better motivated, and more efficient.

However, a critical factor in spending money on any type of training is the specific suitability of the program to the audience and its explicit needs. Often, organisations deploy trainers merely based on the popularity of the trainer without realising that the methods of training may not be ideal for their staff or sales team. As a trained and experienced salesperson, I believe that the program should be designed after a thorough analysis of the line of business and a detailed analysis of the target audience.

Two specific areas

When creating a sales training program, the trainer usually focuses on two specific areas. The first is the development of sales knowledge and, subsequently, the development of sales skills. The sales development segment typically comprises company knowledge, the sales role, product knowledge, pricing, promotions, customers, and competition.

However, most sales trainers believe that sales skill development is more important to salesmen as most of the knowledge about the company, industry, and products can be learned through the available information and material. On the other hand, developing sales skills is more functional and practical. Hence, trainers must concentrate more on teaching selling skills when designing a sales training program.

Selecting a trainer to deliver a sales training or coaching program is critical for a company. They must consider the personal selling experience of the trainer more than his or her training experience on other subjects. For example, a person who has qualifications in marketing or general management may not be the ideal choice to train the sales team. Therefore, choosing a trainer with sales experience is very important.

Simply put, the trainer should be experienced enough to answer any practical or critical question on the topic by using his or her experience. If the trainer fails to respond to such queries, particularly from experienced participants, the trainer will lose credibility. In such a scenario, the training program will be grossly ineffective.

As discussed, teaching essential selling skills is the key purpose of sales training, and the majority of the time must be allocated to developing them. Even experienced participants in the audience should be given an opportunity to refresh the basics that they practice currently.

The sales skills development module should comprise criteria such as prospecting, pre-approach (research on the potential customer), approach, presentation, managing objections, and closing. Each of these topics must be discussed separately with the audience. Each subject has many techniques, approaches, and methods that are essentially important for salespeople to learn.

Skilled trainers use role-playing exercises and demonstrations to effectively teach these abilities. Adding relevant video footage is very effective. These short video presentations are also useful to dispel the possible monotony during a long training stint. Salespeople will internalise what they have learned if they are offered a variety of learning methods.

The traditional customer service excellence that prevailed for decades has now developed into a deeper subject. In modern business practices, it is customer experience (CX) that covers the sum total of customers’ perceptions and feelings resulting from interactions with a company, brand, or product. Customer experience is meant to span the lifetime of a customer’s relationship with the organisation.

It is essential to include a topic on customer experience when training sales staff to encourage the customer to patronise repeatedly. One of the most crucial qualities any sales professional can develop is genuine empathy for consumers.

To do this, the sales training program should have modules that teach about every aspect of the customer experience. The most successful salespeople understand their customers’ emotions throughout the entire sales process, from the first point of contact to the final closing.


Instead of merely going over buyer profiles with the participants, design training exercises that will increase their empathy for the target buyers. Role-plays help the trainees understand what it is like to be a customer. Presenting videos relevant to customers’ feelings and their reactions in specific selling situations can be immensely effective.

The trainer should incorporate comprehensive information on the relevant products and overall market into the sales training program. In my opinion, the trainer should concentrate more on the market analysis based on his or her own experience in sales. It is also essential to emphasise the organisation’s unique strengths compared to the competition throughout the training session.

By doing this, the trainer can instil more confidence in the sales team about the company and its products. It is a fact that salespeople must completely believe in the products they sell. By repeatedly emphasising the strengths and points of difference, salesmen may also become more effective at responding to the competition.

Giving trainees the chance to use the products themselves as part of the product training is a good technique. The trainer can obtain the assistance of existing product specialists to speak briefly during the program. Also, using senior salespeople to demonstrate their sales presentations to the audience can be highly effective.

Discussions on product-specific sales processes must be included in the training program design. Teaching the sales process unique to the audience is especially important if the audience consists of new recruits. The trainer should cover topics such as methods of lead generation and qualifying them, presentation and demonstration, handling objections, and various types of closing techniques. In addition, the program also must have cross-selling and up-selling techniques.

Selling is a team effort. In order to achieve the predetermined goals of an organisation, the sales team must have a high level of team spirit. Hence, adding activities to bond the team together as a single performing unit is vitally important.

The best method is to incorporate group exercises into the training program. Ideally, the trainer should shake up the composition of the groups to get them to know each other more.

Finally, making room for assessments is essential in the training program. Individual assessments are useful for customising the strengths and weaknesses of the participants and the team as a whole. A carefully drawn-up assessment questionnaire with the right questions provided to the participants at the beginning and end of the training session can produce effective results to measure the outcome.

The trainer should focus on a few fundamental objectives for the sales training program. The program should aim to offer high-quality training that boosts organisational productivity and sales. It should also give room for developing and investigating fresh sales opportunities to advance knowledge and skill sets. More importantly, the participants must be able to use the skills and knowledge taught in the program practically.